Saturday 16 March 2013

Morocco - The Ourika Valley

The rain followed us over the Atlas, and just as we were tucking up at the cheapest hotel yet, Le Coq Hardi in Ait Ourir, it started again. Mick, ever anxious on matters of weather, informed us the next morning that it had been raining all night. Immediately, our spirits were as damp as everything else. We resolved to give it a go anyway, as now that we were west of the Atlas there wasn't a lot between where we were and Marrakech in terms of birding. And it stopped! We hadn't been in the car for more than ten minutes when it suddenly cleared - game on! After a wash out the previous day, another rain-affected day would have been terrible, but our luck was in.

Not long into our journey into the valley proper, a woodpecker flew over the car. A green one. Bradders unfortunately missed it, and as after Desert Sparrow, Levaillant's Green Woodpecker was his top target, this was a minor disaster. We all bailed from the car, and realised we were at what seemed like a very birdy spot. Cirl Bunting, Rock Bunting, African Chaffinch, Common Bulbul, a Moussier's Redstart, two species of Wagtail, hirundines overhead, and a funny laughing call from just over to our righ........hang on a minute!

Score! Target bird acquired! And with ease, at basically our first stop of the day. I can't remember exactly where it is, but there will be a trip report in due course. But make sure you hit it at the beginning of the day as it's a parking spot for Camels and rock sellers later on. The birds were mostly enjoying the insects attracted by the Camel dung, and we enjoyed a great half hour before relucantly carrying on and up to the ski resort at Oukaimeden (the subject of the next post).

Common Bulbul
We stopped off again at this wonder spot on the way back down the valley to the airport, as we wanted to have another go at the Moussier's Redstart. This is how we discovered that there were Camels here during the day. To their credit they left us alone until we were done photographing the bird, at which point they all converged with bits of tat. And at which point we fled.

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